With only two weeks remaining in the NBA regular season schedule, the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff standings are still a jumble.
UPDATE Post-Boston game: The Blazers currently sit in sixth place and hold a 3.0 game lead over the Rockets, and a 2.5 game lead over the Mavericks and Jazz. The Grizzlies lead the pack in fifth with a 1.5 game lead over the Blazers, but have suffered a number of injuries and could still slip.
Following are the standings, remaining games between these five teams, and tiebreaker scenarios:
(Click here for direct link to Google Docs spreadsheet.)
The tiebreakers are key to Portland's seeding hopes. For example, while Portland is technically only two games ahead of Utah in the loss column, the Blazers own the tiebreaker. In order for the Jazz to outright surpass the Blazers, they need to gain three games.
Full playoff tie-breaking procedures can be found here. The most important statistic is head-to-head record. If the two teams finish tied, they will be positioned by the second tiebreaker - conference record.
Head-to-Head: Portland owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against Utah and has lost the tiebreaker with Dallas. The Blazers split the head-to-head games against Memphis and Houston, so if Portland ends the season with the same record as either of those teams, the tie will be broken by conference record. For Houston and Portland to tie, the Rockets would need to win more conference games than the Blazers, thus Houston holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. For Memphis and Portland to tie, the Blazers would need to win more conference games than the Grizzlies, thus Portland holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Three-Way-Ties: All three-way ties are broken by winning percentage in games between the tied teams. Portland owns the three-way tie against Memphis and Utah, and against Houston and Utah. The Blazers have lost the three-way tie with Dallas and Memphis as well as with Dallas and Houston. If Portland, Houston, and Memphis finish the season with identical records, the tie will be broken by their winning percentage against conference opponents. Houston would win that tiebreaker.
Portland's status with Dallas and Utah is still to be determined; if Dallas beats Utah in their April 11th game, they own the tiebreaker, but if Utah wins then Portland will own the tiebreaker.
Magic numbers: A "Magic Number" is the number of combined Blazer wins and opponent losses to clinch a playoff spot. But, the concept of a Magic Number gets tricky in the NBA. In the above scenarios, many tiebreakers are still not determined. So, here is what you need to know:
The Blazers' Magic Number is four; they will clinch a playoff berth with four cumulative Houston losses or Blazer win.